Recently, I was part of a panel on digital trends. The moderator asked a great question: “With so many new platforms emerging how do you decide which digital trends deserve attention and resources and which don’t?”

It is a question we wrestle with every day as we try to find the most effective tools for each of our small business clients. And the toughest part … what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another.

So how did I answer the question? Our strategy is one of explore, evaluate, and embrace.

Exploring digital trends

The first part of the strategy is staying ahead of the curve by reading, reading, reading. There is no single expert in the field, so I have several “go-to” websites I check on a regular basis for information on specific niches. The list includes:

  • Moz – My favorite place for topics related to SEO. MOZ covers everything from simple how to tips to extended conversations on new Google algorithm changes. Best of all they explain it is layman’s terms so you don’t have to be an SEO geek to find value in their updates.
  • Elegant Themes Blog – Even if your website isn’t built using Divi or one of the other Frameworks from Elegant Themes, this blog is filled with amazing examples of companies applying the latest web design trends in a range of industries.
  • Web Designer Depot – From design trends to agency management ideas, this site has stayed one step ahead of the industry for more than 15 years. Bonus is their fun, weekly comic that just makes me smile.
  • Marketing Technology Blog – Started by my good friend Doug Karr, this site features articles on technology and social media and how the two tools play together. Sign up for the weekly newsletter for a great way to browse the headlines to stay on top of what’s making news
  • Hubspot – While I don’t use their product, I think they are smart and forward thinking in areas using digital tools for lead generation. Their practical tips on content marketing and social media can be applied by any business.

So the list seems pretty long, how do I have time to read all these articles, and more from other sites? Simple, I rely on Feedly. This app allows me to pull feeds from all my favorite sites into one single reader. I categorize the feeds so I can dive into a specific topic, or simply browse for creative inspiration.

Evaluate Digital Trends

Next comes the evaluation phase as we take a closer look at some of the most exciting new tools or platforms. We read product reviews and search for discussions on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Inbound.org. Then we kick the tires for ourselves. We do small tests to see if there are positive results.

And finally, we look at how this new addition fits with the rest of the marketing program. This is where many exciting ideas get sidelined. Even if the tool itself looks great, if it will require major changes in how a client operates or takes too many resources compared to the potential payoff we will keep the idea in the evaluate category instead of implementing.

The other part of this phase is continually evaluating existing tools and platforms. Just because something worked well for several years, does not mean it will continue to be the best marketing tool in 2019. So, every year we look at each resource and tool and campaign and ask the question, if this was a new idea today, would it be worth embracing?

This careful and somewhat painful analysis led us to consolidate our email newsletters and eliminate our popular Monday Resource. Read more about our decision to Simplify Marketing Content in 2019. Considering the response to our simplified email program, we made the right choice.

Embrace One New Digital Trend

If you are going to jump on a new digital trend, jump in with both feet. To give it a chance to be successful don’t skimp. Put your resources, time, and money behind the roll out.

It is hard to make that type of commitment to multiple strategies and tools at the same time. Also, it will be hard to measure the impact of your choices if you change too many things at once. So choose wisely, and choose one new trend to apply.

Once you’ve launched your new campaign, tool, or trend it is time to start the cycle of explore, evaluate, and embrace all over again.

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